‘Reconnect with the land to combat ignorance of rural life’

May 8, 2016


GROUND FORCE: Getting into the groove from left to right are Steve, Dave, myself and Paul. Pictures by Catriona Chandler.

Planting seeds

SOWING SEEDS: Dave and myself sow some bean seeds into one of the new beds.



RESOURCE EFFICIENT: This rotivator is very useful in levelling out the soil after it has been dug over.


Dave & Steve Allotment

BEAN BUSY: Dave and Steve show some bent bamboo canes that have been inserted for the bean plants to wrap around.



DO we need to take action to be self-sufficient and renew our relationship with the land?

In recent days, I have helped to start up a small allotment given to a friend in East Dorset and with others, the plan is to help grow a variety of fruit and vegetables for our own consumption on a small-scale.

We all had a go using a rotavator and for me personally – having not used it for a while – I was in mower mode initially but the correct way of using it for me eventually proceeded to kick in.

In between two sets of beans planted in square plots, we have sown seeds for peas, spinach and leeks and are looking for some space to put some tomatoes in too.

It is part of having a sustainable living agenda – growing food (GM-free preferably) with the absolute minimum use of pesticides or herbicide and cut our dependence on food being transported long distances.

It is my experience that there is a serious disconnect between people’s knowledge of the land and how it has to be managed for wildlife conservation, food production, forestry, mineral extraction and recreation and getting that balance right.

I know that to be a fact from my work column writing for local newspapers and my on-line articles, but the knowledge is worse for kids in urban areas, as opposed to rural areas.

When a young girl or boy and even young adults sees fruit and vegetables in a large supermarket from all over the world, they can invariably be confused (simply because they haven’t been told) that bananas are grown somewhere in UK and magically appeared in Asda.

This is born out through a survey compiled by Linking Environment and Farming in June of last year. Although it is 11 months old, the facts from this article will not have changed that much.

The study featured 1,000 boys and girls aged from five to 11 from right across the UK don’t know how basic fruit or vegetables are grown or how livestock are reared for meat.

One in 20 (five per cent) thought cheese came from pigs and that strawberries “grew in the fridge” whilst four per cent thought potatoes came from pigs.

Three in ten children (28 per cent) did not know carrots grew underground whilst one in ten thought they grew on a bush.

One in three children (33 per cent) didn’t know pork came from pigs and a further fifth (one in five) couldn’t work out that they were the source of bacon. A further third of these UK children polled had number heard a sheep bleat or a cow moo at close quarters.

LEAF runs an ongoing project called Open Farm Sunday that invites children and their parents to visit farms that open to the public for the day.

Open Farm Sunday manager Annabel Shackleton said at the time: “Over the past decade over a million people, including families, have visited an Open Farm Sunday event but the results show that there is still a disconnect fortoday’s youngsters (as well as for many parents too). We must work all together to ensure that this does not become an increasing trend.”

It is in a remote area not too far from an urban conurbation but is an oasis of peace in an increasingly frenetic and noisy society that we are part of and I’m glad this string to the bow.

In writing this, I hope that anyone reading this seriously looks at the possibilities of working with others in projects such as this as to have knowledge is to have power.

  • THIS year’s Open Farm Sunday will be on 5 June. Anyone wanting to be a host farm or to find out more information, call 024  7641 3911.

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